Year of Reading Dangerously

So this is Banned Books Week. A week to celebrate our (and our children’s) rights to read what we want to read.

Most of the problems with challenged books (which is the more accurate term because books don’t always get banned or burned these days, but still challenged) seems to center around schools and public libraries, and in fact BBW is sponsored by the  American Library Association along with American Booksellers AssociationAmerican Booksellers Foundation for Free ExpressionAmerican Society of Journalists and AuthorsAssociation of American PublishersNational Association of College StoresComic Book Legal Defense FundNational Coalition Against CensorshipNational Council of Teachers of English, and PEN American Center.

I suppose maybe there may have been challenges to bookstores, but when you walk into Barnes and Noble or Books A Million you vote with your dollar. I don’t want to read the Twilight books, so I don’t buy them. Not because I necessarily have anything against sex between sparkly vampires and werewolves or whateverthehell, but because I don’t want to read about sparkly vampires period. In fact, as we’ve previously discussed, I’m pretty much burned out on vampires. But I think you and Boodles and anybody else who wants to read about vampires, sparkly or non-sparkly, should be able to.

Should there be some age restrictions? Sure, within limits. I don’t think 8 year old Boodles needs to be reading about sexy vampires just yet. I’m happy for her to read The Secret Garden and Junie B. Jones books, but for all I know those books have probably been challenged too somewhere. After all, The Secret Garden has a little girl’s parents dying, and that Junie B. Jones? She’s got an attitude.

Here’s something I found out, of the Radcliffe Publishing Course’s list of the top 100 novels of the 20th Century, almost half have been banned or challenged at one time or another. The books that I have read are in red. Get it? Read?

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison  – I read this one in a lit class that I took at Santa Monica College (SMC) when I went back to school in the 90s.
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell – I found a paperback copy in the early 80s, and wanted to make a point of reading it in the year 1984, but in 1984 I was in Canada with Youth With A Mission and I hadn’t brought it with me. I read it a couple years later.

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck – I saw the play while taking a theater class at SMC, and read the book around the same time.

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley – Read it in high school.
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell – Also high school.
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut – Read it in the early 90s after seeing the movie a couple times.
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien – Read the whole trilogy and The Hobbit during my sci-fi/fantasy geek period in the 80s.

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence

66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

So I’m starting a new experiment. This week I’m starting my Year of Reading Dangerously (it’s not original *sigh*). For the next year I’m going to read as many of these books as I can and, of course, because you my fervent readers are entitled to my opinion I will report and review the books.

Part of the reason I want to do this is to do my part for freedom of speech, but also because I need to read more good literature.

I’m going to the library tonight or tomorrow and see what I can find (looking for banned books in a southern red state library sounds delightfully subversive to me). I will report back after I have read it.

3 thoughts on “Year of Reading Dangerously

  1. Phoebe says:

    This sounds like a great idea!

    And to proove how important it is; I’ll admit that my first thought was “you should totally make video book reviews on YouTube!”

    Chyeah, I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve only read ONE of the aforementioned books and seen the movie version of a few others (as well as the one I read) lol… I suppose I’m very lazy when it comes to reading. Movies are just so much faster! ;) In this age of instant information sharing, who has time to sit through a two page description of each scene that takes place and an additional two for the lighting? (So goes my stock argument to excuse my lazy ass)

    Having said that, I actually look forward to your reviews! Netflix better keep up! heehee ;)

    PS Sparkly Vampires, SHOULD be banned from movies AND literature ^_~

    • Joe says:

      Hey! I replied to this yesterday. Wha’ happen? @!!%$$

      Oh well…don’t feel bad. I updated the post with the circumstances during which I read the books. Most of them were read because I had to, either high school or one of my many attempts at college. My taste in novels tends to run to Stephen King/Thomas Harris territory and I don’t know if they’ve ever been banned or challenged.

      You are right about a book being an investment of time. I can do the Random Movie Reviews because a bad movie only takes up a couple of hours of time and then I get to be snarky about it on le blog, so it’s win-win, but I could never do a random book thing. Could you imagine? **shudders**

      Anyway, thanks Pheebs! Glad you’re looking forward to the reviews, they might take a while though. Most of my reading is done on the throne.

    • MisplacedBoy says:

      And I agree, you should totally make video book reviews!!!

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